16 Best Laptop Backpacks (2023): Weather-Proof, Sustainable, Stylish

16 Best Laptop Backpacks (2023): Weather-Proof, Sustainable, Stylish

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The Best, but Expensive

Tom Bihn Synik 22

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Most Stylish

Rains Backpack Mini

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Best Budget Bag

Herschel Heritage Backpack

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A Pricey All-Leather Option

Harber London City Backpack

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The number of backpacks out there is endless, and they range in price from under $50 to several hundred dollars, but finding a life-changing bag isn’t easy. Whether you’re commuting to an office or school, working from coffee shops, or going on a weekend trip, a good backpack will carry your stuff and keep it organized. It’s also easier on your neck and shoulders than an overstuffed purse, duffle, or briefcase.

Whatever your needs, we have a fit and functional backpack for you. We inspect backpacks for a suspended, padded laptop sleeve; durable fabrics and water-resistant zippers; and versatile storage options. Don’t see anything you like here? Check out our other guides, including the Best Recycled Bags, Best Laptop Totes and Purses, Best Messenger Bags, Best Camera Bags, and the Best Travel Bags.

Updated August 2023: We’ve added the LaFlore Paris Bobobark, CamelBak A.T.P, Cotopaxi Todo Convertible Tote, and the Lululemon Everyday Backpack.

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  • Photograph: Tom Bihn

    The Best, but Expensive

    Tom Bihn Synik 22

    When I (Adrienne) travel for work, I typically carry a Tom Bihn bag, and the clamshell Synik 22 is my favorite. It has a lot of pockets, and they’re all thoughtfully designed. For example, the zippered water bottle pocket is located in the middle of the backpack instead of on the side, so it won’t tip you off balance. The pen pockets are located in flaps on the side rather than in the middle top, for convenient access. The exterior is made from Bluesign-certified 400-denier ballistic nylon with top-of-the-line YKK water-repellent zippers. Each bag has a lifetime guarantee.

    Because the bag is so small, the pass-through on the back is only 7 inches wide—too narrow to slip over the handle of a carry-on. And the dense fabric and plentiful hardware—the zippers, O-rings, and buckles—make it a little heavy. But in the 22-liter size, I didn’t notice the extra weight. It’s the perfect, organized conference companion, but it’s on the highest end of what we think is worth spending on a bag.

    A roll-top Tom Bihn: The Tom Bihn Addax for $294 has become one of my go-to bags. Roll-top bags are more versatile than zippered ones. Don’t have enough room? Unroll it and stick your bike helmet in. Too much? Roll it down to compress the space. If you live in a rainy area, roll-tops keep water from seeping through the top zippers. Like all Tom Bihn bags, the pockets are metaphysical perfection, with a huge laptop pocket with two-way access that also has a tablet pocket for my Kindle, and front pockets with O-rings to hook keys and other sundries. It has a huge luggage pass-through and hefty padded shoulder straps. It’s also hand-sewn in the US from PFC-free material and has a lifetime warranty that’s as bombproof as the ballistic nylon fabric. It’s a good thing because, at this price, you only want to buy it once.

  • Photograph: Rains

    Most Stylish

    Rains Backpack Mini

    I (Medea) am a working, grown adult, not a high schooler headed to algebra or a hiker traversing the Alps. When I leave my work-from-home bubble to venture outside, my bag should look like a perfectly curated accessory to my outfit, not a ragged relic or a rugged pack. The 8.5-liter Rains Backpack Mini helps me maintain my sense of style without stripping away function. It holds my 13-inch MacBook and the accessories I need for work. I’ve even packed this little bag with an extra outfit and toiletries (in addition to my laptop) for a night away. Plus, it looks so pretty.

    You can upgrade to the 13-liter version for $125, but both sizes have the same-size laptop sleeve. They’re waterproof and come in fun colors (I bought one in lavender a few years back), and the Mini has held up well over the past few years. There’s a small phone zip pocket on the back panel, but when I’m commuting I like to keep my wallet there so I know no one can grab it. Look at Rains’ other backpacks if you like its understated, Scandinavian style.

  • Photograph: Herschel

    Best Budget Bag

    Herschel Heritage Backpack

    The Tom Bihn is priced out of many budgets, but you don’t have to settle for a crappy bag if you want to save money. Despite being more affordable than most of the bags on this list, this Herschel looks just as nice and is just as capable. I (Medea) used the Heritage as my school bag and filled it with a day’s worth of textbooks and a laptop in its dedicated 15-inch sleeve. I’ve also used it as an overnight bag stuffed with clothes and a pair of shoes, and as a carry-on with essentials should my luggage get lost. It has since followed me into my work life too. It’s made from 600-denier polyester with a faux leather bottom and handle.

    After years of heavy use, it has only recently started to show signs of wear, especially on the top handle. The bag itself hasn’t ripped, and the straps are holding strong. The downside? There’s no water bottle pocket. If the Heritage isn’t what you’re looking for, take a look at the rest of Herschel’s backpacks.

  • Photograph: Harber London

    A Pricey All-Leather Option

    Harber London City Backpack

    If you’re prepared to spend almost $600, this leather bag is sophisticated and doesn’t compromise on function. WIRED reviews editor Julian Chokkattu made it through CES 2023 with this on his back. He stowed a 13-inch MacBook Air (it can fit up to 16-inch laptops), an iPad in the second laptop sleeve, chargers, cables, his camera, and a separate flash. There’s decent organization in there with a spare zippered pouch and padding at the base to protect your goods.

    The front pocket can store a few other slim items, and he likes the tiny pocket near the handles for keys or sunglasses. But the side pockets are too tight to fit a water bottle.

    ★ A casual alternative: We love Cuyana’s leather tote, and its Leather Backpack for $478 is just as beautiful. The laptop sleeve fits my 13-inch MacBook, and a second pocket fits a tablet or Kindle. Two front magnetic-close pockets held my Owala water bottle. You get less protection than with the Harber London bag, though, since it doesn’t zip close—instead, there is a clip and magnet.

  • Photograph: Laflore Paris

    A Cork Leather Option

    LaFlore Paris Bobobark Convertible Backpack

    This bag is beautiful. I picture an artist wearing this around the city, holding their sketchbook and a paperback. Unlike a lot of the backpacks we like, the Bobobark looks great if you’re dressed up, and it converts from a backpack to a purse—you can use the handle like a tote, sling it from one shoulder, or wear it cross-body. The straps could stand to be more comfortable, though, and I opted to use it as a tote more than a backpack because of that.

    The Bobobark is made from cork, which gives it a leather look without using animal products. It’s water-resistant and durable, and the company sells cork conditioner and coloring cream to keep it looking its best—for the price, you will want to make sure it lasts a long time. While this size will hold your laptop and a few books, there’s also a beautiful mini backpack/purse that I’ve been eyeing.

  • Photograph: JanSport

    New Take on a Classic

    JanSport Pro Pack System

    Everyone knows JanSport. Nearly every kid in school had the ultracheap Superbreak ($38), which has a laptop sleeve but isn’t designed to keep it well protected. The new Pro Pack System, on the other hand, is a great bag. It fits a 15-inch laptop in its dedicated, plush laptop compartment, and there are enough pockets and slots to fit whatever you need during the day, like a tablet, notebooks, pens, chapstick, and multiple drinks.

    Where it really shines, though, is in the detachable front pack. I initially thought it was similar to the Monos Metro Backpack below, but this is actually two bags in one. When unhooked, the front pack is a fully functioning cross-body bag, and the backpack works with or without it. The strap unclips so it can be safely tucked away inside. Plus, the whole thing is made from recycled polyester, and the bottom (the “boot”) is recycled 1,689-denier ballistic fabric with an up-cycled windshield liner as the coating.

    A cheaper JanSport: The Right Pack Premium for $80 is not as pricey, but still offers enough room, organization, and protection for all your school or work needs. The padding is a little more comfortable against your back than on the Pro Pack System.

  • Photograph: United By Blue

    A Recycled Backpack-Tote Combo

    United by Blue Convertible Carryall

    United By Blue’s Carryall tops our list of best recycled bags. It goes from tote to backpack easily, just unzip the back pocket, pull out the comfy backpack straps, and clip them onto the sturdy D-rings at the base. The material is water-resistant, and it’s padded, so your 15-inch laptop is safe. The Carryall has two bottle pockets and enough organizational pouches to keep organized.

    Everything is made of recycled materials, too—the interior, exterior, and straps are 100 percent recycled nylon, the padding is a combo of 60 percent recycled nylon and 40 percent recycled polyester, and even the zipper pulls are 100 percent recycled nylon paracord.

    Another Convertible Tote: The Cotopaxi Del Día Todo Convertible Tote for $75 is made of repurposed nylon and polyester (as are all of the Del Día bags) and has wide, comfortable straps. There aren’t many organizational pockets—WIRED reviewer Louryn Strampe says she likes the cavernous main compartment, but if you’re looking for something more organized, consider the United By Blue. There is a dedicated 15-inch laptop sleeve, plus a fleece-lined pocket for items that you want to keep safe among all your other stuff. There are also spots on the front of the bag where you can clip on carabiners, speakers, or Squishmallow keychains.

  • Photograph: Fjällräven

    A Small, Customizable Bag

    Fjällräven Kånken 13-inch Laptop Backpack

    You’ve probably seen a Fjallraven bag in nearly any crowded area. The 13-inch Kanken pack is especially small and good for everyday use, and it manages to fit a Macbook Pro in its laptop pocket. Plus the large main compartment and smaller front pocket can fit a Kindle, a thick planner, and a notebook, with room for lunch or a change of clothes. A reviewer on Fjallraven’s site called it a Mary Poppins bag, which is apt. The fabric is rigid and repels water, and the company offers lifetime repairs (with a focus on sustainability). I love the colors the bag comes in, but arguably the best part is that you can customize the Kanken.

    The side pockets are quite tight, so they won’t fit every type of bottle. (It held a 20-ounce Starbucks bottle, but anything wider won’t do.) The Kanken comes with a foam pad that adds an extra layer of cushioning while you wear it, and you can take it out to use as a cushion when you need to sit on a hard surface. (It’s not super cushy, but it’s better than the cold, hard ground.) The Kanken also comes in a 17-inch version if you need the extra space.

    A convertible Kanken: We also like Fjallraven’s Kanken Totepack for $100, which is essentially the same as the backpack but can switch from shoulder bag to backpack. It’s smaller and not as padded as the United by Blue bag, but it’s cute and compact, and it repels water. You don’t have to unzip and clip the straps either, so if you’re in a rush, just pull the straps over your shoulders.

  • Photograph: STEPHANIE MEYERS/Out Of The Woods

    The Cheapest (for Light Days)

    Out of the Woods Paper Backpack

    Out of the Woods makes its bags from what it calls “supernatural paper”—responsibly sourced tree cellulose—and it says 93 percent of the water used for manufacturing is returned to the source. It looks a little like leather but does feel like a piece of paper. And it’s just $32. The main compartment has a snap-closure laptop sleeve, and the front pocket fits a 9.5-inch tablet (barely, but it zipped). I wouldn’t overpack this bag, for the risk of putting too much weight on the straps, but they’re comfier than I thought they’d be considering they’re not padded. However, the square of fabric where the straps are sewn to the actual bag needs to be worn in. It feels a little like an annoying shirt tag on my back.

  • Photograph: The North Face

    Best for Small People

    The North Face Women’s Never Stop Daypack

    The Never Stop is marketed toward women, but anyone with smaller shoulders and a shorter torso will love it. It has a sleek, teardrop-shaped silhouette, a recycled nylon face fabric that comes in a multitudinous array of fashionable colors, and silky grab handles in addition to the shoulder straps.

    There are two (two!) bottle pockets, one for coffee and one for water, a 15-inch laptop sleeve, and a concealed small pocket up top so that your phone, wallet, and mask are easily grabbable. The one thing I (Adrienne) don’t really like is the concealed zippers, which can occasionally snag on the face fabric when I’m in a hurry. But it looks great, fits easily under an airplane seat, and mysteriously expands to hold any size of jacket. My mom asked me if she could have one after she saw mine, and there’s no higher recommendation than that.

  • Photograph: Camelbak

    Narrow and Versatile

    CamelBak A.T.P. 20 Backpack

    For the past few weeks, I (Adrienne) have been using Camelbak’s Adventure Travel Pack for everything from biking wine and watermelon to neighborhood parties to going on short hikes and cross-country flights. It’s so useful that I’m always startled to realize it only has a 20-liter capacity. I have it in the 100 percent recycled white colorway, which saves water and only emits half the greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating the dying process. It still looks pretty pristine after a few weeks of being shoved under plane seats and left in backyards.

    It’s a panel loader, which means you can unzip the top and see exactly where everything goes, like a duffel. This is convenient when packing for trips—I was able to fit clothes, a Dopp kit, and electronics for an overnight trip. (I know these types of zippers fail more often than top loaders, but it does make it easier to arrange and sort items near the bottom of the pack.) I particularly like how narrow it is; it fits my back and goes under seats that even my children’s backpacks can’t. The bottle pocket has a zipper that makes it expandable so it can fit a little coffee thermos or my giant Yeti. Exterior compression straps also help squeeze my clothes even smaller. This is a great backpack if you want something that looks sleek enough for a work bag but is durable enough to take on a weekend trip to Yosemite.

  • Photograph: Monos

    Vegan Leather With a Detachable Pouch

    Monos Metro Backpack

    The Metro Backpack’s sophisticated look appealed to me à la the Rains bag—they’re just nicer to look at if you like to match your bag to your outfit. This one has a secret, too. The front pocket is actually a pouch that snaps on and off, so you can pack it full of things you may need on your lunch break, like makeup, tampons, or even just your wallet and sunglasses. There’s a Folio Kit for $55 you can get separately that can be snapped on in its place.

    The rest of the bag is solid too, with a clamshell opening. There’s a zippered pocket and mesh slot against the back of the main compartment, and against the front side, there are felt-lined pockets made from recycled water bottles. These easily hold a laptop and a tablet, but there’s an additional 15-inch laptop pocket against the back of the bag. The straps are comfortable, but they get heavy quickly. I tried this vegan leather option, but for a few bucks less you can opt for the nylon.

  • Photograph: North St.

    Best Bike Bag

    North St. Morrison Backpack Pannier

    While toting around the Morrison backpack, a friend immediately said to me (Adrienne), “That’s the coolest bag you’ve ever tested.” North Street bags are made by hand in Portland, Oregon. The exterior fabric is durable 1,000-denier Cordura, and the interior is a waterproof X-Pac VX21 liner with a drawstring closure underneath a buckled flap. The interior laptop compartment is suspended over the bottom of the bag, and we like that the key ring and zipper pulls are made from bright, easily findable red webbing.

    It converts from a backpack to a pannier in about a minute. Just pull the backpack straps out of the pouch on the back and clip them on, or tuck them back into the pouch to switch to the pannier clip. I didn’t find the rack clips to be uncomfortable at all. North Street switched to padded straps since we tested, which may be more comfortable, if bulkier.

  • Photograph: STM Goods

    For Organizers

    STM Goods Dux Backpack

    The Dux’s design takes some getting used to, but its organizational options might make you forget about its looks. This bag is very structured and surrounded by foam padding, so it can take a few bumps without breaking everything inside. Unzip the front pocket to unfurl two mesh zipper pouches and an additional fuzzy zipper pocket that fits fragile gear like sunglasses. Plus, there’s a clip for keys, and if you need more room, you can unzip the bottom of this top pocket to directly access the main compartment of the bag.

    This main section has three separate compartments you can access via either side of the bag, and it comes with a small pouch. You can fit cameras and lenses, or shoes and an outfit—whatever the day requires. (You can also remove the dividers.) The side entry flaps have their own pockets too, so every little thing you need to keep track of is accounted for. The two bottle pockets can unzip to expand—handy if you’re carrying a tripod. The back is plushly lined with suspended pockets for a 16-inch Macbook Pro and tablet. There’s yet another deep pocket on the very back of the bag near the handle, and slots on the shoulder straps to hold your phone, though it was tough to fit an iPhone with a Popsocket on the back.

  • Photograph: Wandrd

    A Great Camera Bag

    Wandrd Prvke Camera Bag V2

    Reviews editor Julian Chokkattu loves Wandrd’s Prvke series bags to hold all his gear, from his mirrorless camera and extra lenses to a 16-inch MacBook Pro and various other accessories. Despite months of regular use, it’s in fantastic condition, thanks to the 1,680-denier ballistic nylon exterior and the weather-resistant zippers. Lots of little pockets adorn the bag to store cables, card readers, microfiber cloths, and the like—even one underneath that houses a rain fly to keep the bag dry when it’s raining.

    Julian opted for the Photography Bundle, which adds a camera cube filled with foldable Velcro dividers you can use to organize camera gear and keep them secure. It’s also easy to access a camera from the side pocket without needing to take off the entire backpack. Read our Best Camera Bags guide for more options.

  • Photograph: GORUCK

    A Tactical Bag

    GoRuck GR1

    The GoRuck GR1 was designed by a former member of the Special Forces, so it’s tough enough to take whatever you or nature can think to dish out. Its slim profile in no way betrays its awesome carrying capacity, which is bolstered by a hefty amount of MOLLE webbing to accommodate all sorts of straps, carabiners, or other items you might choose to clip to the interior or exterior.

    The thick, padded straps take a while to break in, and at 3.5 pounds it’s heavy for an everyday pack. But if you’ve spent years customizing your own idiosyncratic carry system, complete with hand-sewn straps and just the right pouches for all your gear—or if you exit and enter your workplace by busting through a plate-glass window—then the GR1 will thrill you.

  • Photograph: Targus

    More Bags We Like

    Honorable Mentions

    We’ve tried tons of bags. Below are some other good backpacks, but we also have roundups of recycled bags, totes and purses, messenger bags, camera bags, and travel bags.

    • Lululemon Everyday Backpack 2.0 for $98: WIRED reviewer Louryn Strampe tried this bag after another bag failed her in the midst of a San Francisco trip. It’s your run-of-the-mill NPC bag—but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. There’s one big main compartment; a dedicated, padded laptop pocket; a roomy pocket in the front; and space for a water bottle. It’s partially made with recycled materials.
    • Targus Zero Waste EcoSmart Backpack for $60: Targus’ Zero Waste Backpack is a solid backpack for under $100, and it’s made from 20 recycled water bottles. It ships rolled up in a recycled plastic package that unfolds and slips into the laptop pocket to give the bag structure.
    • Timbuk2 Division Laptop Backpack for $110: This is WIRED reviewer Matt Jancer’s favorite backpack. “I’ve used one almost daily for four years, and it just won’t die,” he says. The company’s Lane Commuter Backpack for $189 has its own removable rain cover stored in the bottom. The front is made from protective coated nylon, and the interior is also water-resistant.
    • Troubadour Explorer Ridge Backpack for $325: Troubadour bags are functional, sleek, and extremely expensive. This backpack’s interior is nicely organized with pen holders, a mesh pocket, and a few other slots for your knickknacks, plus a padded section for a 16-inch laptop.
    • Aer Designs Slim Pack for $115: For quick trips, this 8.5-liter bag still fits a laptop, charger, wallet, water bottle, phone, plus a snack. Its durable polyurethane coating can be easily wiped clean.
    • STM Goods Myth 18-Liter Backpack for $120: Reviews editor Julian Chokkattu liked carrying this bag. A suspended laptop pocket keeps it safe from accidental drops and the thick padding helps it sit comfortably on your back.
    • Patagonia Black Hole Backpack for $149: This 25-liter bag is the perfect combination work/adventure bag. The suspended 15-inch laptop pocket clips shut, and the rest of the pockets are thoughtfully placed. It’s extremely light (a little over a pound) and is made from 100 percent recycled ripstop fabric.
    • Lo & Sons Hanover 2 for $238: The Hanover 2 has a clever, padded, and detachable insert with four pockets in it. Use it for work to store a day planner, notebooks, coffee mug, and water bottle, or take it out and replace it with a diaper changing station, tiny rain jackets, and seemingly thousands of stuffed animals for the little ones.
    • Able Carry Daily Backpack for $138: This pack is thin, so you can stuff it to the brim before it starts to get bulky. And stuff it full you can, because it has a pocket for everything. The Thirteen Daybag for $148 is similar but slightly smaller.
    • Mission Workshop Rhake for $435: This roll-top bag has a ton of pockets, and its two-layer weatherproof construction and Velcro closures keep the contents dry. But those pockets aren’t easy or fast to access, it’s heavy, and it’s even pricier than when we first tried it (and rising).

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